CenturyLink draws up its playbook for edge compute services

CenturyLink served up its blueprint for edge compute services on Monday that will serve enterprise customers, cloud providers, system integrators, and wireless carriers.

CenturyLink has booted up more than 100 initial edge compute locations across the U.S. to provide a range of managed services and hybrid cloud solutions to its customers. The edge compute services blend compute, storage and networking capabilities into one package.

CenturyLink's edge compute services include 5 millisecond transport time from its existing locations to the edge, which is ideal for low latency applications such as virtual reality, augmented reality, machine learning, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence (AI.)

“Customers are increasingly coming to us for help with applications where latency, bandwidth and geography are critical considerations,” said CenturyLink's Paul Savill, senior vice president, product management, in a statement. “This investment creates the platform for CenturyLink to enable enterprises, hyperscalers, wireless carriers and system integrators with the technology elements to drive years of innovation where workloads get placed closer to customers’ digital interactions.”

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Source: CenturyLink


CenturyLink CEO Jeff Storey said on last week's second quarter earnings call that a customer with 2,000 nationwide locations was evaluating his company's fiber fed edge compute services. That customer is looking at moving its data processing needs closer to the edge, and closer to the origins of that data, using CenturyLink's edge compute locations.

"There's increasing demand for computing capabilities at the edge of the network, and we believe we're uniquely positioned to capitalize on this market opportunity," Storey said on the earnings call. "In addition to our far-reaching fiber network, we operate a large number of edge locations that are well suited to enable edge computing. In the coming weeks, we expect to announce the details of our investments in our widely distributed and extremely well-connected edge computing infrastructure."

In an email to FierceTelecom, Savill said CenturyLink wasn't ready to disclose its vendors for the edge compute services, "but we are working with a variety of vendors for the bare metal hardware and orchestration layers, which will be an adaptation of current CenturyLink cloud products."

The use cases for hyperscale cloud providers include manufacturing control systems, retail robotics and AI-based video analytics, according to Savill. Wireless carriers also stand to benefit from the edge compute locations.

"We believe edge compute will work in tandem with 5G wireless networks and wireline networks to deliver more efficient, scalable compute for many existing enterprise applications, as well as enable new emerging applications like retail robotics and AI-based video analytics," Savill said.

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CenturyLink faces competition from the likes of AT&T and Verizon in the field of edge compute services. AT&T's recent deal with Microsoft included an edge compute element while Verizon has been testing edge compute capabilities on its live 5G network.

During the conference call, Storey touted CenturyLink's dynamic networking capabilities that can provide real-time network provisioning from the customer premise to CenturyLink's edge locations. CenturyLink is using its software-defined network and its Cloud Connect Dynamic Connections platform to provide connectivity to Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Project and Amazon Web Services.

CenturyLink also announced in Monday's press release that it was expanding its networking colocation services in many of its key markets to help customers and partners run distributed IT workloads close to the edge of the network.

RELATED: CenturyLink extends fiber reach in U.S., Europe

CenturyLink also recently announced it was adding 4.7 million miles of new fiber from Corning to its intercity network in the U.S. and Europe.